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Hot Rods Spring in front of front axle ???

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by grumpy65, Jan 1, 2019.

  1. grumpy65
    Joined: Dec 19, 2017
    Posts: 105

    grumpy65

    Hi all.

    I am after thoughts and information on running a "spring in front" type suspension on the front of a fenderless model A closed cab pickup. Think 1937 and later style. Pro's and con's for doing it this way would be good to hear.

    Attached is pic of T bucket built by Dana Barlow that uses this setup. ( @dana barlow )
    Hope Dana doesn't mind me using his impressive bucket as an example.

    Thanks,
    Steve
    [​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. bct
    Joined: Apr 4, 2005
    Posts: 3,000

    bct
    Member

    puts the axle behind the radiator a little bit but personally I love the heritage look of it. spring widthmight change tho from the A's 1.75 to the later 2"
     
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  3. grumpy65
    Joined: Dec 19, 2017
    Posts: 105

    grumpy65

    Thanks bct. I agree with the "heritage look" as you put it. Dana built his rod in 1959 and I assume it ran this front end setup back then. Maybe Dana will confirm this for us.

    Axle placement, and therefore wheelbase, could be controlled by placement of the front crossmember in the frame. I think the setup could be acheived using a model A dropped axle and spring to suit, mounted somehow in front.

    Any ideas on effects on ride quality by extending the spring base?
     
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  4. F&J
    Joined: Apr 5, 2007
    Posts: 13,183

    F&J
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    X2. But be aware there are "Y2K Traditional readers" chiming in that it's ugly or half ass, but that's their ignorance of true tradition. I'm not saying all should be built that way, as that definitely would not be traditional either :)...it's just nice to see a few like the old days.

    My former 1959 built Boston area chop/channel 1930 Chevy roadster pickup was built that way, and the builder used a piece of channel iron ahead of the Chevy front crossmember to mount the spring, to get the wheel base back to stock. He blended the two members together and it looked great.. Everything was chromed, dropped/drilled chrome axle. He even fabbed hairpins onto the spring-ahead bone yokes which looks wild, and again, all chromed.

    I'm not sure I'd use the A axle as you'd need a custom length spring because the perch pin center to center width is different than later Ford axles that have a spring made for spring-ahead. Then, the typical repro spring leaf tips won't be that sweet looking curved/tapered ones of the Ford ones. (meaning it would defeat the look of having spring-ahead if it had a Posies repro button tip spring)

    Ford went to spring-ahead to lower the car, and get the wider(longer) spring .......which as you know, a short spring won't ride as nice as a longer spring..
     
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  5. grumpy65
    Joined: Dec 19, 2017
    Posts: 105

    grumpy65

    Good points F&J. I think you are right about retaining the original later axle and spring so as to maintain the cleaner look. Wider spring would improve ride quality, and as I mentioned above, I think the longer spring base vs wheel base would do more of the same.

    Thoughts on hairpins vs 4bar vs split bones on this setup?
     
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  6. Hackerbilt
    Joined: Aug 13, 2001
    Posts: 6,230

    Hackerbilt
    Member

    Ford also went from a tensioned spring to a spring that just hangs from the shackles to improve the ride. To prevent side sway in that configuration they used a panhard bar. Keep that in mind as you may need to use a shorter than stock spring if you don't want to run a panhard bar.

    The whole idea behind people running a setup like that back in the day was convenience.
    They simply ran it because it offered better brakes and a better ride over the older stuff.
    It wasn't because it looked better. It doesn't...particularly on a fendered car.

    Frame mods can make it look good wheelbase wise...and it does offer a different look to normal which can be cool...but the earlier stuff just has the clean look that's hard to beat.
    To each their own...and it does look good on Dana's car with the little tweeks he made!
     
  7. grumpy65
    Joined: Dec 19, 2017
    Posts: 105

    grumpy65

    Agree totally Hackerbuilt. While not the usual direction for an "A", I think Dana has nailed it with the way his is done. Maybe I would take a different approach with the spring centre mount (covered and streamlined more???).

    No arguement, traditional "A" setup is hard to beat for looks, but I think this also has potential looks wise, along with ride quality/lowering benefits. Would have to be careful not to get it wrong though. Wouldn,t have to miss the mark by much for it to lose it's visual appeal very quickly indeed.

    Panhard behind axle should be doable easily enough. Can't tell if Dana has one or not.
     
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  8. Hackerbilt
    Joined: Aug 13, 2001
    Posts: 6,230

    Hackerbilt
    Member


    Sounds to me like you have the potential to make it look as good as Danas!
    You seem to know what to look out for.
    Looking forward to seeing some pics as you move along! ;)
     
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  9. grumpy65
    Joined: Dec 19, 2017
    Posts: 105

    grumpy65

    All just conjecture at this stage. Only in planning stages. Lots of options to investigate and decisions to make.
    Any info from anyone on possible problems would be much appreciated.
    Pics would be a real bonus, but I'm not holding my breath.
     
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  10. An obvious reason is that they sit lower than a spring on top, and if you don't have to worry about centering the tire in a fender, go for it.
     
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  11. jebbesen
    Joined: Aug 18, 2015
    Posts: 383

    jebbesen
    Member
    from Winona, MN

    Look at Isky roadster and Frank Mack roadster.
    Isky's
    445207-1359921666-5858c1df50a4e5239ee6c779ee1f48e1.jpg The Story of Racing 015.jpg widd-inline2-photo-583191-s-original (1).jpg

    Frank's

    20180406_065539.jpg WP_20180130_16_06_50_Pro.jpg WP_20180130_16_27_00_Pro.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  12. Cliff Ramsdell
    Joined: Dec 27, 2004
    Posts: 1,017

    Cliff Ramsdell
    Member

    The first chassis under my Tudor had the spring in front. It used an AA front cross member which is 2” wide to accommodate the later spring, it was a good fit.

    With the 42 - 53 fan setup and the radiator moved forward to clear it really pushed the headlamps out pretty far past the axle
    Centerline, something to think about.

    Cliff Ramsdell
    CBCD7203-6CA8-49AB-B7F7-6684BB782D90.jpeg 84347C22-ACC3-4688-BFCC-13C17C029D0B.jpeg
     
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  13. RichFox
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 9,741

    RichFox
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    In my opinion. If you keep the stock crossmember location and shorten the wheelbase. It looks terrible. I have always hated that look. Looks like the owner was lazy, to me. Proportion is way off. Stretch it out to maintain stock or longer wheelbase and it's OK. Different on a T bodied car with modified frame, A body on a stock frame looks wonky.
     
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  14. dana barlow
    Joined: May 30, 2006
    Posts: 3,514

    dana barlow
    Member
    from Miami Fla.

    001 (4).JPG Thanks for liking my old rod. I guess I'll fill in a few things,starting back in 1957 as a teen,I hunted parts an dragged home those that seem to fit my dream an could be got free, by 1959 I had a running hot rod I liked. A lot now call it a "T-bucket" but actully its a 1928 bobtailed "A"roadster=what little was left of the free "A" roadster was also crushed near flat from one rear wheel to the other{ I just cut off the bad an used the good parts as a teen.
    The ideas of my design came from a mix of rods I liked around town ,and car mag. Car Craft ,Hot Rod,etc.with a good number of auto engineering books. I had also been a member of Fisher Body Craftmen Guild, combinded with what fit into what I could hunt up{on near no $$. The front axle assm. I got off a junked 48 laying on its side in the woods{ I pick it for the hydraulic brakes an that stock=has about 3in.+ drop to axle{ to me that was better looking then earlyer Ford designs. Added too spring mount being out front also helping lower{but this I had to fab a front spring from leafs out of lower ark an fewer leafs/bottom main leaf from something I re-arked{bent} upside down/making eye on top,2in. wide leafs. Cross I moved forword,I ended up replacing it with 2in. box later,after cut up A one cracked.
    WB is 98in. The rear set up is also spring behind using the "A" spring but less leafs. I have no panhard bar on front,but there is at rear,note front shackels are 45*{ never let them hang lower,if you build them lower=use a panhard bar. Spring out side the axles can be softer an do ride better,like having a longer lever to left something. My rod today looks as it did by 1960,but now has chrome EX header,alt. and alum rad. as updates.
    None would be seen by highschool classmates ,they just see the same rod as a time machine,at our get togethers !!.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
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  15. RichFox
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 9,741

    RichFox
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Like to see a full side view of these cars. If the axle is set back, that is where it shows the most.
     
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  16. jim32
    Joined: Dec 9, 2006
    Posts: 570

    jim32
    Member
    1. Hamb & Eggs

    First let me say that I agree with RichFox, but with some for thought it can be done well. Amelia%20Island%202003%20Khougaz%20Van%20Buskirk%20roadster%20016.jpg imagesM5RXV05J.jpg ac15_r143_006_72.jpg
     
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  17. Tim
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 9,864

    Tim
    Member
    from Raytown Mo

    Seems like the bases have been covered, I’ll just add that once you start looking you’ll notice tons of cars running the spring in front.
     
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  18. dana barlow
    Joined: May 30, 2006
    Posts: 3,514

    dana barlow
    Member
    from Miami Fla.

    MyChruch.jpg parked at JohnF.jpg
    My own axle is about were the stock "A" was,I moved the front spring mount forword.
    These are with the added folding top I made just a few years ago,,its handy if it's going to rain maybe,but I run with the top left at home mostly. I like it even better with out it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
  19. This is a 39 Axle unit including spring and the wheel base is absolute stock Model A. When (if) I ever get back to work on it, it will also be Full Fendered with front wheel where it belongs in the fender opening. Took a little thinking but proof is in the Photos. You can do it too. I forget the exact numbers but the Hood will be 4 or 5 inches longer and headlights will be on a dropped bar bringing them back where they belong.
    20151023_094028.jpg 20151023_094047.jpg 20151023_094111.jpg 20151005_163830.jpg This 1954 photo was and still is my inspiration to go Channeled and fendered. What a Kool ride!
    '31 A Channelled full fenders.jpg
    The Wizzard
     
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  20. rusty rocket
    Joined: Oct 30, 2011
    Posts: 3,472

    rusty rocket
    Member

    image.jpg I think it depends on what you are building. I did the spring ahead on my single seater project because this is what I had and I wanted to keep it ultra simple. Had a few comments about how some folks thought it was ugly but i dig it and thats all that matters. image.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
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  21. RichFox
    Joined: Dec 3, 2006
    Posts: 9,741

    RichFox
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    upload_2019-1-1_9-23-52.jpeg My A has a spring behind the axle. The cars above which have the spring perch moved forward to keep the tire where it should be look great, IMHO. Even further forward looks better. Again IMHO
     
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  22. grumpy65
    Joined: Dec 19, 2017
    Posts: 105

    grumpy65

    Thanks for chiming in Dana.
    With the story of how you collected your parts and put your rod together, it seems the result was either blind luck or pure genius. I'm putting my money on genius. I have read a lot of your posts about DEJA VU and can tell that you know a lot about design and application.
     
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  23. grumpy65
    Joined: Dec 19, 2017
    Posts: 105

    grumpy65

  24. grumpy65
    Joined: Dec 19, 2017
    Posts: 105

    grumpy65

    Hey Pist-n-Broke, guessing that if your hood is 4 to 5 inches longer you got back to the stock wheelbase by stretching the frame (added bonus of no firewall recessing). Correct me if I am wrong, but wheelbase could also be addressed by moving front spring mount position forward in the frame, thereby keeping everything else in its original location.
    Not sure about this idea yet but keep getting a vision of replacing the front crossmember completely with a cross-tube and using a suicide style spring perch on the front of the tube (sort of t bucket style). This would be a crossmember/spring mount modification only - frame horns remain in place.
     
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  25. grumpy65
    Joined: Dec 19, 2017
    Posts: 105

    grumpy65

    Yep, liking the way you have set the front end up. Just want mine with horns.
     
  26. grumpy65
    Joined: Dec 19, 2017
    Posts: 105

    grumpy65

    Nice RichFox.
    Not sure the "even further forward" option would suit a pickup.
     
  27. grumpy65
    Joined: Dec 19, 2017
    Posts: 105

    grumpy65

    Anyone have an idea on how much ride improvement would be gained with the wider front spring and longer spring base? Rear end will be coilovers behind axle (mounted wide on axle) with triangulated wishbone 3-link, giving a further increase in spring base. Will the increase in ride quality be worth the time and effort with this front setup???

    @Kerrynzl , @Ned Ludd , @gimpyshotrods , @ELpolacko and others in the know.
     
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  28. upspirate
    Joined: Apr 15, 2012
    Posts: 2,053

    upspirate
    Member

  29. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 16,170

    gimpyshotrods
    Member

    Well, this is a much easier question to ask, than to answer. Leaf spring dynamics is something that could easily fill volumes to describe.

    To break it down, and compartmentalize it into the context where we are working, and to make a long story short, a longer spring can (given a whole bunch of factors that break down to, right spring, made right, installed right) provide a softer, more supple and controlled ride (when coupled with the correct shocks).

    That said, there is very little room, up front, to mess with.

    If you look at what the sum total of what Ford engineers (and they were no slouches, even 100-years-ago) were able to do with the beam axle, and transverse leaf, you will find that they took the responsibility of locating the axle side-to-side away from the spring, in favor of a Panhard bar (removed excess pre-load), and they moved the spring forward, where it could be as wide as possible, and as flat as possible (the more a leaf spring's ends point up or down, the more they act as "legs", rather than springs). This allows for a more favorable spring rate, as the length of "lever" (lateral distance from where the force is being applied, to where the spring attaches. This dictates how long the functional length of the spring is) pushing on the spring is shorter. The shocks got better, too. That's as far as they took it, until they did away with it.

    Can you take it farther than that? Absolutely. Will you want to go through that effort, hard to say. It could mean a few trials of custom springs, a really nice set of adjustable shocks, and an adjustable anti-sway bar (and bending the beam, to achieve proper camber for expected results, and tires used).

    Will you want to do this? It can indeed be done. It has been done. I have done it. Others will tell you that it can't be done. They are wrong. Can you get as close to a perfected design, and still look traditional? No.

    My best advice is: This is not 1919. It is 2019. We are not driving on rutted dirt roads. There is no reason whatsoever to have a frame that is considered part of the suspension system. That ship has sailed. Box it until it is as rigid as it plausibly can be. That way, you are tuning you suspension, not your frame, and suspension. If you want a leaf, get a new one (with a lot of thin leaves), and run it forward of the axle, with a Panhard bar. Try that. If you are finding body roll to be unsatisfactory, install an adjustable anti-roll bar. Install the best shocks you can afford. Adjustable ones, if you can.

    Oh, and contrary to popular belief, the gas in gas shocks does not make them stiff. The valving does. The gas is there to keep the oil from foaming, leading to shock fade. A lot of gas shocks are indeed stiff (correlation is not causation. Umbrellas do not cause rain). Just don't buy those.
     
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  30. Correct grumpy65, Take note in the first two photos of the space behind the oil filler as well as a manual Fan that clears the Helmet style dist. This was all a part of my plan, I just hate electric fans! My rear Axle is a 36 unit with the A spring mounted to the 36 hangers and the Frame has No kick on either end. I used an AA front crossmember and mounted it in the stock rivet holes so that the Frame horns look correct. I also have to add a bit to the fender to go to the end. Over the years I had salvaged a nice back section and a good front section and with one splice I had a stretched A frame that does the job. I then added a 38 X member and 39 pedals. All cast off's from Customers up grades.
     
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